The Lakers and Rockets are all tied up.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 62 points and the Los Angeles Lakers survived a furious Rockets comeback to beat Houston, 117-109, in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday night.
The Lakers seemingly played into the Rockets hands in their Game 1 loss. Los Angeles did not outrebound the Rockets, and they shot one less three-pointer against a team that shoots the most threes per game in the entire NBA.
The long rebounds off the Lakers misses allowed the Rockets to get out on the break where they used their superior speed to outscore the Lakers in transition.
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It was a different story in Game 2, as the Lakers let their defense dictate their offense early in the first quarter.
Los Angeles held the Rockets to just 20 points in the first quarter, as they led by as many as 21 points in the first half.
As mentioned, Houston lives and dies by the three-pointer. They attempted 53 shots from beyond the arc in Game 2, and 68 percent of all their shots were from three-point range.
After not falling in the first quarter, the Rockets began to hit their threes in the second and third quarters, rallying from 21 points down to take a five-point lead at the end of the third quarter. The Rockets were 9-for-13 (70 percent) in the third quarter from three-point range.
"We understand this team has the ability to make 5-to-6 threes in a row and go on a big run like the did in the third quarter," said Lakers' head coach Frank Vogel. "We have to not overreact to that."
Led by LeBron and Davis, the Lakers went back to work on the defensive end in the final frame, once again allowing their defense to dictate their offense.
"We stayed home a little bit more, mixed up our coverage in the fourth, and we did a little bit better job getting out to shooters," said Vogel of the difference with the defense down the stretch.
They held Houston to just 17 points in the final quarter, and 2-for-12 (16 percent) from beyond the arc. They rotated on defense to get out to the Rockets' shooters, and that enabled them to get out in transition, scoring easy baskets at the rim to finish off the victory.
"We wanted to make sure to takeaway the threes," said Davis of the strategy in the fourth quarter. "They had like five to start the third and got back in the game. We wanted to get the ball out of James' hands. We were able to do that and get back to our defensive game plan."
James Harden led the Rockets with 27 points, and Eric Gordon had 24 points, shooting 6-for-12 from three-point range in the loss. Houston had six players in double figures.
Davis had 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead all scorers. James was one assist shy of another playoff triple-double, finishing with 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in the victory.
Markieff Morris was a perfect 4-for-4 from three point range in the first half and finished with 16 points. Rajon Rondo had 10 points and nine assists, and was a game best +28 when on the court.
"His impact on this team is measured in swag," said Vogel. "He was a plus 28 tonight and really wreaked havoc defensively for us. We have to keep this team off-guard and that's what he did. Just a great Rondo performance."
The Lakers outrebounded the smaller Rockets squad 41-35, had more assists 30-to-22, more steals 11-to-7, more block, 5-to-2, and less turnovers, 17-to-15. The big advantage came inside the paint, where the Lakers outscored the Rockets, 54-to-26.
Lakers' starting center JaVale McGee left the game in the third quarter with a left ankle injury and is undergoing an MRI. Guard Dion Waiters suffered a strained groin in the first half and did not return.
Game 3 will be on Tuesday at 6:00PM PT.